Inheritance of the family farm can sometimes be a difficult issue. Perhaps you are a child who hasn’t inherited the farm and you think this is unfair or perhaps you are an executor who is wondering how to deal with a claim. Either way, this page will tell you the most important things you need to know about farm inheritance disputes.
As regards inheritance rights for children, there is no automatic right for a person to receive anything in their parent’s will and no requirement for a parent to leave something to each child in the will.
However, as regards the rules of inheritance, S117 of the Succession Act speaks about the “moral duty” of parents to provide for their children. If a court thinks that a parent has not made “proper provision” for their child then some money or perhaps a share in the farm may be given to that child from the deceased’s assets. There are strict time limits for this type of case and you should speak to us if you think your parent has not made proper provision for you or that their will was unfair and you want to claim inheritance.
With regard to children in wills, “proper provision” has been described as a duty to house, clothe, maintain, feed and educate the child, ensure medical, dental and chemists’ bills are paid for until the child finishes education and provide “some provision by way of advancement for them for life”. In essence your parents should help set you up in the world as much as they are able to.
A feature of Irish inheritance law is that it protects people who are still at an age and situation in life where they might reasonably expect support from their parents. We know that this support is often reasonably expected after the age of 18 and your age will not prevent you from taking a case like this. The court will also consider your financial position and prospects in life.
Even if it is clear that you have not been provided for properly, the court will consider the overall circumstances of the parent. A parent might have many obligations when he/she is writing a will, for example other relatives in need or other children that need help and these obligations might mean that one child’s right to receive something is less urgent.
There may be special circumstances that create an obligation for a parent to give something to one child. This can happen where there is a child with a physical or mental disability or if a child has worked on the farm all his life in the belief that it will be given to him when his parents die.
The relationship between you and your parent might be significant. For example, if there is a good and caring relationship, the court will not like to interfere. However, if there has been a bad relationship then it might be more likely that the parent didn’t act fairly. Just because a parent feels neglected doesn’t get rid of his moral duty towards his children. Where there is an openly hostile relationship, the court will consider both the actions of the parent and the child.